Dealing with Grief and depression During Covid
During the covid-19 lockdown, everyone felt vulnerable and lost a sense of control in their lives. It was fear of the unknown and fear of dying from a virus, which had no cure and knew very little about.
Two years later we discovered these opportunities were golden moments for big pharma as its chance for them to rub their hands together and create vaccines out of the blue that can end this virus and lockdown. Looking back it was a race on who will be first to create vaccine then it was race between countries on who can sell most. At the time UK was celebrating one of benefits of Brexit is being front of the queue to obtain vaccines from America. After watching the Netflix 2023 series (Painkillers) it really opened my eyes on the industry. When I was a kid in the 1970’s people who worked in the health profession did so solely on dedicating there life to help and preserve life but the future generation is in it for the money.
Covid dominated the hospitals and many elderly health check up’s and planned surgeries were put on hold as covid-19 was top priority. In result heart issues were overlooked and mistaken as long covid. There were also no choice in taking the vaccine you were felt like you targeted if you were against a vaccine and any serious side effects were blocked on Facebook and legacy news and labeled as misinformation.
Only 12 months after the covid vaccine booster was initially rolled out there has been endless reports on links to myocarditis. Mainstream media are claiming this still is conspiracy made by alternative independent media.
This culture on money has caused endless strikes over NHS in the UK and now we discovered years before these strikes they were still performing below standard with low mortality rates. In other words even if money is thrown to the NHS it will not improve the mortality rates in NHS hospitals.
The effects of lockdown raised awareness of mental health. Fortunately for me I have always seemed to find ways to overcome mental barriers and I did this by gravitating towards philosophy, exercise, blogging and having close-knit family. The Hollywood mantra is to keep moving forward, relish the new version of yourself or it is what it is. What is kept under the carpet is that for some people lockdown caused mental breakdowns for loosing work and domestic abuse.
The trigger for me was grief and loss. Nothing can prepare you for it and no one wants to think too deeply when his or her loved one is no longer there with you. People outside your immediate family will never know how you feel and understand on traumatic experience you had to go through. You go through mourning and people start to give you advice “move forward” “you are now the man of the house.”
I lived with my Dad since I was born so loss became immense when that voice is no longer in the house. You are dealing with a void and now thinking deeper of your own mortality. However this does not stop people to tell you to be a man and to be surrounded by people who did not have that emotional attachment. It is difficult times like this when you see people for what they are. There are people who show emotion or sensitive towards you then there are people who are quick enough to talk about humorous joyful times when the body has not even made it to the chapel of rest. Then there are people who act like they care by saying they are going to create a family tree after the loss. What is that family tree any use to anyone, it should have be created for my Dad when he was here but it took very sad time like this to think about it.
Back to work after a loss
Once the funeral has been done you are expected by extended family to return to work and to get back to normality. That maybe easier for a heartless person but you are now dealing with a new normality.
You cant just go to work and escape grief, you have to deal with it head on. I needed at least 2 months until I could consider going back to work. The first 6 months you go through deep depression. You go through every emotion and have flashback and mental drops about the dark moments leading up to the passing. It’s important that management at work are aware how fragile and vulnerable you are but remember they are not therapist; you seek help with people you trust. Your employer will find ways to slowly ease yourself back into work.
When you have a traumatic experience like this you are forced to look at your own mortality and learning more about different health issues and life expectancy. This is why you never have the old normality again because that small innocence we had is now gone. When we realised my Dad may not wake up after his surgery I had a mental breakdown and dropped in my mum’s lap. I have never cried for over 30 years. When my Dad left us I stopped crying but the depression started.
I have never been outgoing or sociable person, family is my life. When you are close to someone for most of your life work colleagues and friends will not have clue what is going on in your head.
People say it will never be same again. Some extended families maybe too distraught to even visit your house, as they prefer the loved one to open the door and greet them. What about the family they are dealing with this every day.
My Dad was very close to my 2-year-old son more than I was. I wanted it to be that way because my Dad was the person we all learnt from. When my father left us it was heartbreaking to hear your son still calling for his grandfather 8 months later.
Talking about loss
What we had to do differently moving forward is having an open conversation about death. The older you become the more funerals you will attend and grief and loss is hard subject to avoid. You start to think about what achievements or milestones your loved one will no longer be part of.
They say don’t take your young child to the funeral it’s too upsetting. I was adamant I wanted my 2-year-old son to be at my dad’s funeral. If there are such things as sprits or life after death it’s important he is part of this. He only had 2 years with my Dad and i wanted him to be there during important part of his life. There is tendency to not to talk about death. How can death be taboo subject we cant escape it no matter how much vitamins we put in our body. Money can give us private heath service, longevity experts but our body breaks down no matter what.
It’s important to have these conversations with family as it helps to get more clarity. A traumatic experience can happen any time in your life and when it does, we need to know what to expect. Going to a funeral is the first step to accept passing but also the start of talking about loss. People need to know that the first 12 months will be a struggle so it’s important you focus on doing things to honor your loved one. You may even discover things that you were unaware of months after the loss. You start to question if doing things differently like private healthcare would of changed the outcome. It so easy for people to put rationality on loss. In order to help yourself and your family data is key. We all know heart disease is the number 1 killer in men.
How do you move forward after a loss ?
Everyone deals with loss in different ways but it’s important how you deal with it and find your way to move forward. This does not mean putting it on hold or trying to convince you everything is ok when it is not. You have to be open and honest with yourself. You will have to decide what personal items you want to keep or give to charity. You will need to complete jobs your loved one was unable to complete. Continue to live life through your bucket list. 90% of things on my list were already discussed with my dad from house renovation, goals for my children and family get-togethers. Many of things are long-term goals but it is having that comfort that dad knew about things I will continue to do in the future. What you need to be prepare for is that no matter what positive steps you take those dark moments will always creep back and it can last minutes sometimes hours. You need to accept it will never go but you need focus on the achievements and not let your mind define your loved by those last moments of their life.
It’s not easy to watch the news with my mother on corruption, whistleblowing,waiting lists,patient safety and bullying in the same hospital where my father passed away. I had first hand experience myself and made complaints as it was happening. What I learnt is not to rely on the NHS as they are failing in every way. A recent article from The Guardian Tue 3rdOct 2023 stated there have been inequalities in NHS heart valve surgery. The delay of surgery was based on your race or economic status. With endless revelations in the last 12 months in regards to UK’s National Health Service, I have lost faith in how the system is run. My Dad had some discomfort on his chest and went to hospital for check up. The hospital told him he had to stay and cannot go home. He was told surgery is required and will go ahead three days later. His life saving surgery was cancelled over and over again. He ended up waiting six weeks for surgery in hospital and by then he was mentally and physically deteriorating. After the surgery he was put in ICU for over a week and consultants did not have the guts to tell me he already passed away due to the surgery. It was all false hopes and words in the effect of “ we have to take a day at a time”. How does a family member mentally recover from this. A person who achieved so much in his life and the last two months leaves a scar in your heart.
I recently met a person the same age as my Dad who had the same health condition and was offered appointment in six months for major surgery. Understandably NHS appointment was cancelled as risk of anxiety for long wait. He had health insurance, and secured life saving surgery in three days in private practice and he is alive today with extra eight years added to his life.
Surgeons or consultants like everyone else should either loose pay or even loose their job based on their performance. The legislation is to sign form before surgery of potential risks and even death so they are covered. Every two weeks I had to drive pass the hospital to go shopping and that is were the darker memories come back. I decided to take some control by visiting the hospital the same day I visited my Dad a year earlier. I did not want this hospital to define my Dad memory. This was just a place to pro long his life. I went up to the same ward and walked up and down the corridors and kept on saying to myself this place is not going to take my Dad’s memory. He achieved a lot in 70 years of his life and we need to focus on that. That day was very difficult but it’s something I had to do to fight those demons.
When you go through grief these are the drops you have. Although i believe it was a combination of things that contributed to my dads passing from obesity, alcohol, blood pressure as well as covid when you see these reports you just have to change the channel. I would recommend watching these news reports when you are ready. It is also important to realise you may not experience 100% of the lows in the first 12 months. You will struggle through Christmas, birthdays, Anniversary, father’s days; meal times but there are also places you yet to visit without your father.You will also revisit some of the pain when you bump into a person who knew nothing about the loss. Grief is with you forever and it is there to remind you how much you love them.
After reading the book (The Grief Survival Guide) by Jeff Brazier it states you will go through a series of emotions (Anger, Denial, Guilt, Blame, Depression, Acceptance. Also after acceptance you will want to find meaning and before any emotion you may have a breakdown. There is no set pattern and this will be there for rest of your life.
You will question yourself if you had control, was it out of your control, what would you do differently? And what have you learnt from the experience. I usually finish work late evening and my Dad would usually be there to greet me before he went to sleep. That drive home after the loss was difficult and for me the only way for me to make that drive less painful was to start listening to audible while I was driving back. I was listening to a range of books that gave guidance on grief and optimism including (finding meaning) by David Kessler and (No Time Like the Future) by Michael J Fox. I was unable to listen to music in the first 10 months and music has always been a big part of life. I gravitated music that touched on difficult subjects but also gave hope. The Post Malone album was my anthem during this difficult time with songs including Landmine,Reputation and Something Real.
It’s important you find ways to deal with the difficult times but also able to grow at the same time with wisdom. It’s also important to understand the road to recovery is different to everyone and that maybe due to the circumstances around the passing and the age of person passing including relationship you had with them.
What you do to honor your loved one will be the first step in recovery. In the first 11 months I devoted my spare time creating tribute videos, portraits and eulogy. This is the most important part of your journey because it’s your responsibility to find a way so your loved one will be remembered. Some people need to be remembered for the good they did. My Dad’s Facebook was way to keep in contact with family abroad, share memories and reflect on his lessons in life.
When you take that time to honor your loved one that will help to bounce back from dark moments.
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The Guardian, January 19th 2023, Thousands at risk of heart attacks due to covid disruption, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jan/19/thousands-at-risk-of-heart-attacks-because-of-covid-disruption-charity-finds
The Guardian, October 3rd 2023, Deeply concerning inequalities in NHS heart valve surgery, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/oct/03/deeply-concerning-inequalities-nhs-heart-valve-surgery-report-england
ITV News, March 14th 2023, University Hospitals Birmingham ‘failing to take patient safety criticism seriously’, https://www.itv.com/news/2023-03-14/midlands-nhs-trust-failing-to-take-patient-safety-criticism-seriously
Daily mail online, August 16th 2022, more heart patients will die on waiting lists as queues surge unless action is done to halt the crisis, experts warn, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11117779/More-heart-patients-die-waiting-lists-queues-surge-unless-action-halt-crisis.html
The Guardian, March 3rd 2016, Leading hospital under CQC scrutiny over high heart surgery death rate, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/03/queen-elizabeth-hospital-birmingham-cqc-heart-surgery-high-death-rate#:~:text=The%20Guardian%20can%20reveal%20that,years%20who%20should%20have%20survived.
BBC, December 1st, Climate of fear putting patients at risk, say doctors, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-63827648
Mirror, March 14th 2023, ‘Toxic’ hospital compared to the ‘mafia’ slammed for failing to cooperate with review, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/toxic-hospital-compared-mafia-slammed-29457115
The Guardian, July 4th 2023, UK regulator sued for not investigating covid vaccine ‘misinformation’, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jul/04/uk-regulator-sued-for-not-investigating-covid-vaccine-misinformation
The telegraph, January 7th 2023, Critics claim covid jabs are causing heart problems – do they have any proof ?, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/critics-claim-covid-jabs-causing-heart-problems-do-have-proof/
The Guardian, March 6th 2021, from Pfizer to Moderna: Who’s making billions from covid-19 vaccines?, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/mar/06/from-pfizer-to-moderna-whos-making-billions-from-covid-vaccines
WION, January 22nd 2022. Youtube, Gravitas Plus, How Big Pharma pushes dangerous drugs and reaps profits, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCciAJJMt9Q&list=PL7-M3peNDiGvzGIo_KIaRadbyadIiit3k&index=6
Wales Online, January 13th2023, NHS heart doctor who championed covid vaccines now wants jabs suspended after death of his father, https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-heart-doctor-who-championed-25966344
BBC News, July 9h 2021, Heart inflammation link to Pfizer and Moderna jabs, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-57781637
The guardian.com, November 12th 2020, Black and Asian people at greater risk of getting Covid, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/12/black-and-asian-people-at-greater-risk-of-getting-covid-meta-study-finds
Wellbeing & Fitness Writer.